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How to Fake a Fever With a Thermometer

By Amy Sutton ; Updated April 18, 2017
Stay in the room with your child while the thermometer takes his reading.

One of the not-so-fun parts of being a parent is when you have to determine whether your child is really sick or just trying to fake it to get out of school. How do you know for sure? The keys are learning how to outsmart your child and stay one step ahead of him.

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How to Fake Sick

Feel your child's face to see if it feels warm when your child says he's not feeling well. Keep in mind that if he's trying to fake sickness, he may have placed a hot water bottle or warm cloth across his forehead to make you think he is feverish. This may be one of the oldest tricks in the book. He could also have breathed heavily into his pillow to make it hot and then put it across his forehead to make it feel warmer.

Watch for the theatrics to begin. He may pretend like he's not feeling well, trying to fool you by pretending. He may stay in bed, bundled up in his blankets, or he may mope around the house whining.

Avoid giving your child the opportunity to do the "fake fever" trick. He probably knows one of the things you'll do first is reach for the thermometer. He may be sneaky enough to try to heat the thermometer up, so you think he has a fever. If you leave your child alone while the thermometer does its job, he may try to rub the end of the thermometer to try to heat it up quickly. He could run it under the hot water in his bathroom or hold it near his bedside lamp. Your child may even ask for some hot tea or hot cocoa to make him feel better and then dip the end of the thermometer so it gives a high reading.

Sick or Faking?

Outsmart your kiddo by being one step ahead of him. Watch for real signs of a fever in your child, which may include flushed cheeks, sweating, thirst and warmer than normal skin. Watch for other signs of true illness, recommends WebMD. This could include red and swollen tonsils, stuffy nose, fatigue, cough, rash and body aches.

Stay in the room when you're taking his temperature with a digital thermometer. Place a clean digital thermometer under your child's tongue, near the back of his mouth. Ask him to close his mouth and then turn the thermometer on. Hold it there for around one minute or until the thermometer beeps to signal its finished taking his temperature.

Determine if your child is too sick to go to school or not. Don't send him to school if he has diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or a fever, or if he just isn't acting like himself. Trust your instincts and do what you think is right, advises Kids Health. Educate yourself on the school's sick policy, as well.

Know some of the signs of faking, which may include acting sick one minute and then behaving perfectly fine the next. He may also display vague symptoms that affect one part of the body and then mysteriously migrate to another part later.

Tip

Wait to take your child's temperature orally until 15 minutes after he's had something hot or cold to eat or drink, recommends HealthyChildren.org.

If your child is really sick, call the school office to let someone know he won't be attending that day.

Warning

Figure out why your child is trying to fake a fever. It could be that he wants a day off. However, WedMD warns his behavior could be a sign of a more serious problem, like being bullied at school.

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